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Syllabus: AQA

1 - Why study Physics?

Physics is not just a science – it is the most fundamental science. In fact, everything exists, moves and interacts according to the laws of Physics – even if we are still trying to uncover them! It is a subject that demands logic, insight as well as imagination.

By studying it at A level, you will master the fundamentals of Physics and learn to view the world from a different angle. You will see your mobile phone as a microwave receiver and transmitter. You will be able to explain how your fridge works, why stars appear to have different colours and explain how electricity flows through wires and cables. You will learn to question why things happen and try to answer them like a scientist. The recent discovery of the Higgs boson at CERN exemplifies the exciting nature of the subject and the Physics department uses this as a learning opportunity to plan trips including to CERN in Geneva.

It is a thrilling time for fresh young minds to make their mark in the field of Particle Physics, Astrophysics, and many other fields.

2 - What will you study?

Year 12

Unit 1: Measurements and their errors
Unit 2: Particles and Radiation
Unit 4: Mechanics and materials

Unit 3: Waves
Unit 5: Electricity

Unit 5: Electricity
Unit 6: Transition into year 13 Physics

Year 13

Unit 6: Further Mechanics and Thermal Physics
Unit 7: Fields and their consequences

Unit 6: Further Mechanics and Thermal Physics
Unit 7: Fields and their consequences
Unit 8: Nuclear Physics

Unit 1: Practical skills from Units 3 to 8
Option unit: Selected from unit 9/10/11/12/13

3 - How will you be assessed?

Paper 1: Units 1 to 6 (excluding Thermal Physics from unit 6) – 2 hours (85 marks; 34% of A-Level)

Paper 2: Units 6 to 8 (excluding Further Mechanics from unit 6 – 2 hours (85 marks; 34% of A-Level)

Paper 3: Required Practical skills and Option Unit – 2 hours (80 marks; 32% of A-Level)

4 - What skills will you develop?

You will learn to question why things happen and try to answer them like a scientist. Throughout the course, you will develop opportunities to:

  • Explaining natural phenomena
  • Plan and devise experiments carrying out repeatable, accurate and valid investigations
  • Investigate some theories and laws of Physics
  • Analysing data to draw valid conclusions
  • Evaluating the strength of scientific evidence and data
  • Use a range of analytical and research skills in your own investigation
  • Apply knowledge in a range of problem-solving and numerical skills

5 - What makes a good Physics student?

In order to be great at this course, you must:

  • Love asking good questions and participating actively and attentively in classroom and peer discussions.
  • Have a good grasp of mathematics and be able to write in good English.
  • Be comfortable completing independent study on a weekly basis to cement your knowledge of the course.
  • Use independent study time efficiently and be prepared to study for a minimum of 5 hours per week outside of lessons.
  • Carry out practical work independently and safely, understanding why you do each step in the method. Good attendance is essential to pass the CPAC practical requirement. Many universities require a pass for entry requirements.

6 - Where can Physics lead?

  • Academic research
  • Computing
  • Opto-electronics
  • Telecommunications
  • Motor vehicle technology
  • Power generation
  • Medical physics
  • Meteorology
  • Medicine
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Business & management
  • Teaching
  • And many other careers

7 - Reading list and preparation


  • Surely, You're Joking Mr Feynman: Adventures of a Curious Character: ISBN - 009917331X
  • Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth: ISBN – 1408802384
  • Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You: Understanding the Mind-Blowing Building Blocks of the Universe:  ISBN - 057131502X
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything: ISBN – 0552997048
  • Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words: ISBN – 1408802384
  • Prepare for the challenge of A Level Physics Kit Betts-Masters
  • New Head Start to A-level Physics CGP A-Level Physics


Practice Questions:

8 - Stretch and challenge resources

Citizen science

  • SETI@home is a scientific experiment that uses Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI). You can participate by running a free program that downloads and analyses radio telescope data. http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/
  • Asteroid Watch allows you to search for Near Earth Objects (i.e. asteroids) in observations that have been made, and report back their positions. http://www.schoolsobservatory.org.uk/activ/asteroidwatch
  • Galaxy Zoo – to understand how galaxies, and our own, formed we need your help to classify them according to their shapes — a task at which your brain is better than even the most advanced computer. If you're quick, you may even be the first person in history to see each of the galaxies you're asked to classify. http://www.galaxyzoo.org/
  • Zooniverse – many other projects similar to galaxy zoo: solar stormwatch, planet hunters, the Milky Way project. https://www.zooniverse.org/
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